Are you ever intrigued by a place just far enough out of your way that you wonder if it’s worth the detour? Lava Hot Springs, Idaho is just such a place. Only 11 short miles from I-15, it’s easy to miss–but the detour pays off big! Tucked into the scenic Idaho mountains, you drive into the picturesque valley under an immense bridge where speed slides descend into an enormous water park. An Olympic-sized pool, 10-meter diving platforms, water slides, an indoor pool and a water playground for kids are only the beginning of the water activities in this charming community.
The water is where this place began. From a natural geothermal spring, two and one-half million gallons of hot mineral spring water flow from the ground each day. At one end of town is the water park and at the other are the “world-famous” hot pools. The hot spring flows directly into five spacious pools with generous seating, each at a different temperature. Unlike other hot springs, these waters are odor-free. Some of the nearby hotels also offer hot pools and baths.
Not to be outdone by the pools, the Portneuf River flows through the center of town and is easily accessible for a terrific tubing experience. Tube rental booths dot Main Street, along with gift shops, restaurants and cozy hotels. It’s an easy walk from the take-out back to the top to ride the river again. The Portneuf in Lava Hot Springs was ranked “the best tubing river in the U.S.” by USA Today’s Top 10 with good reason.
Beyond the water, good times in Lava Hot Springs can be had playing golf and bingo, camping, hiking, riding the zipline, climbing the challenge course, going on a wagon ride to a country dinner, or relaxing with a massage. The website, LavaHotSprings.org, details a colorful range of events happening throughout the year like Oktoberfest, a “Bull’s Only” Rodeo and a Wellness Festival in May. The Fire & Ice Winterfest each February is known as “One of the Top 10 Zaniest Winter Carnivals in the World!” Between water recreation to cool you off in the summer, hot pools to warm you up in the winter and entertaining events all year, there isn’t a a wrong time to visit.
So next time you’re driving along I-15 and wonder whether that detour is worth it, we say YES, the short drive to Lava Hot Springs, Idaho is definitely worth it!